CHICAGO – October 26, 2019 – Variety’s Steve Gaydos proved prescient when he said, “Add first-time writer-director Joe Chappelle to the list of talented young filmmakers who find neo-noir film’s textures and terrains irresistible, and use the genre as their low-budget path to self-expression and gainful employment.” Launching with Thieves Quartet, Chappelle’s career as a producer/director has shaped many of television’s seminal shows including The Wire, Godfather of Harlem, Chicago Fire, Fringe and CSI: Miami. Now, Chappelle’s debut film, Thieves Quartet, for the first time, is streaming free this fall on Tubi, the world’s largest ad supported video on demand service, since its limited theatrical release 25 years ago.
Thieves Quartet is a crime picture with noir underpinnings, examining class and race in the 1990s. Chappelle describes Thieves Quartet “like watching a lost episode of The Wire, set in Chicago.” It’s a brooding tale of betrayal, kidnapping and murder. Set in a cold and barren Chicago, the film is the story of four lost souls, each seeking a second chance to begin life anew with a scheme to score a quick $2 million.
Chappelle, along with wife Colleen Griffen, produced and directed Thieves Quartet. It includes a haunting score by legendary composer, John Zorn. It was a dream to create this film for the couple, early in their careers.
“We’re coming back next year with a finished film,” Griffen told her husband, Chappelle from a pay phone at the 1992 Independent Feature Film Market in New York City. She had just seen the first U.S. screening of Reservoir Dogs and heard Quentin Tarantino speak about getting his film made.
“Thieves Quartet launched a lot of successful film careers in and beyond Chicago,” said Griffen. “It’s exciting to watch the credits and recognize so many names still working in the industry today.” In 2016, Griffen and Chappelle started their Chicago-based independent film and TV production company Corrado Mooncoin and remain committed to growing Chicago’s production community.
While Chappelle worked mostly on location after Thieves Quartet, he was able to come home for Chicago Fire due to the incentivizing tax breaks. Following six years of work on Chicago Fire, the duo launched a passion project. Chappelle directed and Griffen produced An Acceptable Loss (2018), a political thriller starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Tika Sumpter. Close to 90 percent of the cast and crew make their homes in Chicago.
Chappelle’s latest work, Godfather of Harlem, is a frontrunner in this fall’s television lineup. He didn’t stray far from the crime scene, as this show is inspired by the story of infamous crime boss Bumpy Johnson (Whitaker), who in the early 1960s returned from eleven years in prison to find the neighborhood he once ruled in shambles.
Though Thieves Quartet had a limited domestic theatrical release in New York City in the early 1990s, it was well-received by the press. It was reviewed as “Taut” – The New York Times, “Striking” – The Hollywood Reporter, and “Better than Reservoir Dogs” – Joe Bob Briggs, San Francisco Examiner.
Thieves Quartet is distributed by Cow Lamp Films and will be available to rent and own on Amazon and will stream for free on Tubi beginning November 1, 2019.
THIEVES QUARTET DESCRIPTION
Thieves Quartet is a brooding tale of betrayal, kidnapping and murder. Set in a cold and barren Chicago, the film is the story of four lost souls, each seeking a second chance to begin life anew through one big score.
Joe Chappelle (Executive Producer/Director/Writer)
After starting his career as a commercial director, Joe Chappelle wrote and directed his first independent feature, the award-winning Thieves Quartet in 1994. For the last 15 years, he has worked primarily in television. His credits include producer/director on CSI: Miami, co-executive producer/director on the ubiquitously acclaimed The Wire, executive producer/director on Fringe and executive producer/director on Chicago Fire. In 2018, Chappelle wrote and directed the independent feature film, An Acceptable Loss, starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Tika Sumpter with Colleen Griffen as producer. Most recently, Chappelle serves as executive producer/director on Godfather of Harlem. Premiering September 29, 2019 on EPIX, Godfather of Harlem stars and is executive produced by Oscar® winner Forest Whitaker. Chappelle holds an M.F.A. from Northwestern University and a B.A. from George Washington University.
Colleen Griffen (Producer/Writer)
Colleen Griffen wrote, directed, and produced the mockumentary web series, boyband, which was acquired by Fullscreen and Audience Network in May of 2016. She also wrote and produced her feature directorial debut, The Cold and the Quiet in 2013, which won both Best Narrative and Best Direction at the Women’s Independent Film Festival in L.A. In addition, Griffen has produced three other feature films—An Acceptable Loss (2018) starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Tika Sumpter for Joe Chappelle, Already Dead (2007) for Sony Pictures and the award-winning Thieves Quartet (1994) for Joe Chappelle. A graduate of Northwestern University (M.F.A.) and Washington University in St. Louis (B.A.), Griffen has taught film at both Northwestern and Columbia College in Chicago and continues to serve as a film panelist and lecturer.
ABOUT COW LAMP FILMS
Cow Lamp Films is the Midwest’s first and only full-service, independent film and television distributor. Cow Lamp Films provides the full-service distribution opportunities to independent filmmakers that are difficult to access without the support of large studios.